Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The People They Refuse To See

As Stephen Harper jets off to Cannes, trumpeting his government's economic performance, someone should follow him with a copy of the latest Food Banks Canada  Report. That report, which was released today, contains some very disturbing numbers:

More than 851,000 individuals visited a food bank in March alone, a number that’s little changed from last year’s record and still 26 per cent above prerecession levels.

And the picture gets bleaker:

The findings reveal that recipients span the spectrum. Nearly 100,000 of them are first-time users and one in five actually has a job or has recently been employed. More than one in ten are immigrants or refugees – many of whom are highly educated, and usage is growing among seniors.

The monthly numbers are not an aberration. According to Craig Alexander, chief economist at the Toronto Dominion Bank, they reflect long term trends:

While the number of jobs lost in the recession has been recouped, many new positions aren’t as well-paid as the former ones. Wage growth has not kept pace with inflation. Globalization, outsourcing and technological changes have eliminated many middle-skilled, middle-income jobs. And displaced factory workers are having trouble re-entering the work force.

Worse still, the present government doesn't want to see these trends. It has worked hard to sweep the numbers under the rug:

The federal government no longer produces national welfare statistics, and not all provinces publish their social-assistance caseloads. Unlike the U.S., Statistics Canada doesn’t publish how many unemployed people run out of EI without finding work. And the agency’s data on incomes is published with a two-year lag – meaning the last national indicator on poverty rates is from 2009.

The gap between the poor and the rich is widening, a recent Conference Board of Canada paper found. It said income disparity has risen more rapidly in Canada than in most of its peer countries, including the United States, since the mid-1990s.

Mr. Harper won a majority claiming that, for Canadians, things were getting better. The Food Banks Report makes clear that his claim was cynically untrue. This government is allergic to facts. It's also allergic to the poor. It simply refuses to see them.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The rising cost of food forces one to purchase less healthy food. Beyond the food banks there are still many who have to shop with an idea of meeting the need to fill onself up and not necessarily to meet the best nutritional needs.
So foodbanks do not tell the whole story.

thwap said...

harper would be a miserable failure economically speaking, if he actually cared about facts like you've just presented.

But harper is a monster for whom higher poverty is the intended consequence of the policies pursued.

harper has dedicated his ugly, miserable existence to robbing from the poor to give to the rich.

Owen Gray said...

The usual line from these folks, thwap, is that they oppose wealth redistibution -- as in the wealthy shall share some of their wealth with the poor.

But, in truth, they promote wealth distribution -- from the poor to those who have plenty.

They argue that charity should be optional -- except they don't allow the poor to practise that option.

ChrisJ said...

And we have almost four more years to go!

Owen Gray said...

And the damage they can do in that time is substantial, Chris. I notice this morning that Ontario and Quebec are refusing to pay for the Conservatives' law and order agenda.

The opposition will (or should) switch to the provinces.

Owen Gray said...

That's absolutely true, Philip. Food banks do not guarantee health. They are -- or they should be -- temporary solutions for immediate problems.

However, they have become permanent fixtures -- and it would appear that the powers that be are not losing any sleep over that fact.

But, then, facts don't seem to matter much these days.